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Doha: Qatar has won the right to host World Tourism Day (WTD)) 2017 celebrations, which will be held under the theme, ‘Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development’.

The announcement was made following a vote of the 21st UNWTO General Assembly in Medellin, Colombia. Celebrated annually on September 27, World Tourism Day is the biggest international event in tourism. Its purpose is to foster awareness among the global community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. The event, which is held in a different continent each year, seeks to address the global challenges outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to highlight the tourism sector’s contribution to achieving them.

Speaking at the General Assembly, QTA Director of International Cooperation SaifAl Kuwari, said, “Qatar’s tourism sector is among the fastest growing globally.

Our National Tourism Sector Strategy outlines an ambitious path of development through 2030. We believe that holding the official World Tourism Day 2017 celebrations in Qatar will provide a timely opportunity to take stock of the sector’s achievements and provide us with a new catalyst for all that is yet to come.”

Al Kuwari added that the 2017 WTD theme, ‘ Sustainable Tourism — a Tool for Development’ mirrors the overarching message from this week’s UNWTO General Assembly that tourism has the power to drive the growth of nations and must be at the forefront of national development plans.

“In Qatar 2017, we will create events that will carry this message from us all to the world,” he said. Following the vote, Dr Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General, UNWTO, spoke of the ability of tourism to spur development across socio-economic boundaries.

“Asa sector behind one in 11 jobs worldwide, tourism is a valuable source of livelihood for millions of people.

Built around the countless cross-cultural encounters happening every day in all corners of the world, tourism is also a gateway to greater understanding of the world beyond our borders, and the first step in building peace between communities and nations,” he said.

Burkina Faso was previously selected to host WTD 2015 under the theme `One Billion Tourists, One Billion Opportunities’ and next year’s celebrations will be held in Thailand, on ‘Tourism for All promoting universal accessibility’.

Source : Traveller (From Sept 21 to Sept 27 )Vol 3, No 15